News from the CRC


Release date
20 Jul 2016

Learn from the internationals at AFAC16

The AFAC16 conference program features international speakers who will challenge our perspectives on emergency management. 

Two of those speakers are:

  • Jona Olsson founder and director of Cultural Bridges to Justice and Chief of the Latir Volunteer Fire Department in New Mexico and;
  • Professor Gavin Smith Executive Director of the Center for the Study of Natural Hazards and Disasters (UNC Coastal Resilience Center) and the Department of Homeland Security’s Center of Excellence – Coastal Hazards Center. 

We asked Jona and Gavin about their thoughts on AFAC16. 

Can you give us an insight into the direction of your presentation?

Jona:  Our work toward gender justice is a life-long path, and I hope to offer a few insights, guidance and hope for men and women of conscience with whom I share this journey.

Gavin: The study and practice of disaster recovery in the United States remains less understood than preparedness, response, and hazard mitigation activities, each of which comprise what we refer to as the four phases of emergency management.  We know even less regarding the roles that state agencies and governor’s play in disaster recovery. 

This lack of knowledge is often manifest in reactive and uncoordinated policy making following disasters and suboptimal recovery outcomes.  One way to gain a better understanding of this process, and potentially improve disaster resilience, among other desirable results, is to seek insights from state officials who have experienced major disasters and identify lessons that can be shared with peers in the US and abroad. 

The presentation will conclude with a set of policy recommendations intended to address weaknesses and transfer these lessons to an Australasian audience.  Key themes of the conference to be discussed will include leadership, capacity building, building back better during the disaster recovery process, resilience, partnerships, and collaboration.

Are there other presentations on the AFAC16 program that you’re excited by?

Jona: "Making diversity inclusive" Bronnie Mackintosh

"Creating a culturally safe organisation" Karen Roberts

"NSW Rural Fire Service remote operations" Chris Ryder

Gavin:  I'm interested in attending a number of presentations as there is much I can learn from the Australian experience.  One of the reasons I'm so excited about the opportunity to attend the conference and spend time in Australia is to explore potential collaborative research and translational activities with others.

Is there anything else you would like to tell AFAC16 delegates?

Jona: I am greatly honored to be invited to be a part of these conferences, and am truly looking forward to my first visit to your nation / continent! Thank you.

Gavin:  My career spans a blend of research and practice and as a professor, I have tried to focus my efforts on applied research and educational initiatives that have direct practical applications in terms of its effect on policymaking, capacity-building and the role of planning in creating more resilient communities, to include educating the next generation of hazards scholars and practitioners. 

Register Now for AFAC16 - the joint conference of the Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC and the Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council - go to:

AFAC16 Getting the balance right: Mitigation - Response - Recovery, Brisbane Tuesday 30 Aug to Thursday 1 Sep from AFAC News on Vimeo.

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